There are so many things that I love about serving at Temple Baptist Church, but one of the most personally satisfying ministries is leadership development. Shortly after I arrived in Ruston, I realized that God had strategically placed our congregation here in order to encourage and equip leaders to make a difference for the Kingdom. In truth, the Temple family had been doing that for years! God simply allowed me to come in and join the journey. And, wow, it has been great!
Take this past Sunday as an example. During the gathering at 10:30 a.m., we were able to formally recognize for four individuals who have surrendered their lives to vocational ministry: James Davison III, Stephen Kessler, Jonathan Parker, and Cassidy Simmons. Jonathan already holds a degree from Liberty University and has served in both the church context and in chaplaincy work. James and Stephen are currently taking courses at THE New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) while Cassidy also plans to enroll at NOBTS next semester. You see, this is just one instance of how the leadership pipeline continues to demonstrate itself in our church.
As we move ahead, we look forward to building upon this effort as we develop more leaders locally while sending more individuals into the mission field. One specific way in which we hope to do that is through the creation of the Temple School of Ministry and Missions. This past Wednesday, you affirmed this new ministry that will allow students to receive theological and practical ministry training right here in Ruston. Through the school, men and women will have opportunities to strengthen their effectiveness in evangelism, teaching, and discipleship. And thanks to a new partnership with NOBTS, those enrolled in the program can receive up 21 graduate hours of transfer credit (roughly 25% of their desired degree) right here. This is not an extension center for NOBTS. Rather, we direct and maintain all operations of the school. Students will be able to get a head start on seminary if they are in college (almost like a dual enrollment) for a much reduced financial rate than the typical seminary costs. I’ll be sharing more of the structure and organization of the school in the upcoming weeks; but let me say, I’m very excited that this has come to fruition. No doubt, the Lord is going to continue to develop leaders within our church family that He will use here and around the globe. And my friends, we get to do it together!
Even though we all have felt the pressures and difficulties of the past few months, I do sense the winds of renewal and expectation circling around us. Last week, we had the best attendance on campus since March (and we still had room for people to socially distance). We are seeing people return to the church; but even more, we have seen several visitors worship with us. Some of those visitors have been watching us online during the past few months, and they have been drawn to our fellowship. That is awesome! Absolutely it is because our God is working in the midst of challenging times to continue His plan and advance His purpose! I hope you are growing excited with me as we reengage together and with the Lord! See you Sunday!